Monday, August 13, 2012

Honoring The Past

As we turned into Estes Park, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic.  The problem with ritual is that it brings the past into such clear focus.  We started making these trips four years ago-my parents, four siblings, and a gaggle of children.  And in such a short span of time, so much has changed.  My face has become thinner and more gaunt, my hair line is receding.  Next year, I will be the last of the siblings to enter our forties.  The babies have grown into school children.  Their physical needs lessen as their emotional ones become primary.

My step grandmother came on our first trip. Well into her nineties, her body occasionally faltered but her mind was crystal clear.  I remember staying behind with her one evening when the rest of the group went for a camp fire.  We sat in the living room alone in a pair of chairs that faced each other. We talked for an hour, probably the only hour I ever spent alone with her.

I asked question after question.  She told me about her childhood and how she met my step grandfather.  We talked of the greatest generation and the difference from today's adults.  It was an intimate and honest conversation.  By the time the rest of the family returned, I felt a bond that spanned generations and the decades that separated us.

We returned to Estes Park two years later, shortly after her passing, to make new memories and mourn that which could never be lived again.

Sometimes when I see the kids running and playing together, I think of my own childhood.  I imagine that instead of our offspring, it is actually me and my brothers again.  Without a care, we scamper back and forth searching for the next great conquest. 

But clearly I am no longer a child.  And on this third family reunion in Colorado, I struggle more than ever in the art of balance.

I try to mirror the wisdom of the child in rejoicing in the present,

while honoring the memory of the past.


Maggie said...

One of the delicious pleasures of grandparenthood is the occasional deep conversation with a grandchild who is actually interested in what life was like 'back then' and whose thought processes have not yet been shaped into what passes for adult conversation hereabouts.

Another delicious pleasure is watching the interactions of our adult children with their children, and recognizing that this is now my third experience of those: first, I was the child, feeling cherished and/or frustrated by my parent; then, I was the parent, feeling ditto by my child; now, I am the grandparent, watching, and recognizing that it's the same interaction once again.


tracy said...

This is so amazing, as i was just remembering being a child on our family's ranch, oh, those carefree days, and now being the parent of a son with Aspergers...he is a joy, but how things change.

i love my son with all my heart, however, i wish he could have enjoyed the things that i did, as a kid.

Thank you so much, Dr Grumet